I wanted to explain some aspects of what autogynephilia is. It was initially posted as two separate post on MumsNet in response to questions about what it is, and a number of limiting preconceptions a number of people had (mainly that autogynephilia is confined solely to erotic cross-dressing) which limited their ability to get a grasp on this fascinating subject. I’ve posted it here as I didn’t want what I’d written to be lost forever in a long discussion thread. I will use this as a basis for a more comprehensive essay at a later point in time.
Ray Blanchard realised was that transsexuals fell into two types; homosexual (males who are attracted to males) transsexuals and non-homosexual (males who are romantically attracted to females, both females and males, or who are asexual) transsexuals, and that non-homosexual transsexuals are autogynephilic; they are stimulated erotically at the thought of themselves as a female.
Thus, transsexuals generally fall into two types: homosexual transsexuals and non-homosexual autogynephilic transsexuals. Blanchard observed that males (MTF/MTT) who are attracted to females are autogynephilic.
Why would someone who is attracted to females be autogynephilic? It has been suggested there is an ‘erotic target location error’ in the autogynephilic male, the erotic target is not outward (a woman) but inward (the transsexual’s fantasy of themselves as a woman). Anne Lawrence explains how autogynephilia leads to males transitioning in the essay ‘Becoming What We Love’.
There are several questions about autogynephilia that remain which can be resolved by empirical testing, for example are there any homosexual autogynephilic transsexuals? This is a very good question and I have seen examples of autogynephilia in homosexual transgender individuals. I have also had reported to me, from two gay males I know personally, and have done for some years, that some gay men have a history of childhood/pubescent autogynephilia (this activity was not confined to merely ‘dressing up’!). So, I know that some gay males also have histories of autogynephilia.
There are four different types of autogynephilia which may occur completely, partially, or in combination with other types (complete or partial):
- Transvestic autogynephilia: arousal to the act or fantasy of wearing typically feminine clothing (this is what people often mean when they talk about autogynephilia, but it is much more nuanced);
- Behavioral autogynephilia: arousal to the act or fantasy of doing something regarded as feminine, also covers ‘interpersonal autogynephilia’;
- Physiologic autogynephilia: arousal to fantasies of body functions specific to people regarded as female (there’s some way-out stuff on the Internet of males getting a kick from pretending to be pregnant); and
- Anatomic autogynephilia: arousal to the fantasy of having a normative woman’s body, or parts of one (breasts are a common fantasy, often the autogynephile will want breasts but to keep his penis and testicles, this is an instance of ‘partial autogynephilia’).
Autogynephilia can also be compared to being a sexual orientation.
Here’s a piece I put together taking something someone else has written and pointing out the real world instances of autogynephilia the author was (unwittingly) describing ‘17 signs I am an autogynephiliac and didn’t know it‘. If you read my critique or even just the original piece ‘17 Signs I was Transgender But Didn’t Know It‘, it is apparent the use of pornography played a role in the evolution of he subject’s sexuality.
I think it’s always good to look at real world examples as it makes the topic easier to understand and it also demonstrates the phenomena does exist, and once you know what you are looking for, examples of autogynephilia are easy to spot, for example in this piece by Juno Roche ‘Other Lands: The great unexplored realm of the trans vagina‘. Note also, through their own use of language, the apparent influence of porn on the author’s sexuality:
There is a misconception that the autogynephilic transsexual is a repressed homosexual male. Although the autogynephilic transsexual will often fantasise about, or even have sex with men, it’s a performance, they are acting their own fantasy of what it is to become the woman they love: this love is targeted inwardly towards themselves, or rather at the fantasy woman that exists in their head. This autogynephilic sexuality can look like heterosexuality but in reality this competes with their displayed heterosexuality.
It is thus incorrect to suggest the autogynephile is a repressed homosexual, just as it is incorrect to suggest they are a normative heterosexual. They are instead automonosexual, this sexuality resembles but competes with their heterosexuality. They become, they are, the woman with whom they are in love.